“Portrait of A Movie Star” (Merhl Norton Doren, September 16th, 1962)
A Movie Star came to town Wednesday. She appeared in what became as the day went on, a wonderful “mob” scene.
Dozens of camera flashed and flashed and flashed, hundreds of persons greeted her. And Miss Joan Crawford passed one more “test” most admirably. The Mob loved her!
The Academy Award winner of “Mildred Pierce” was guest of honor at the formal opening of the new Pepsi-Cola plant here.
Miss Crawford, in private life, Mrs. Alfred Steele, is the very active vice president of the Pepsi-Cola Co.
What does a movie star really look like? That was why most of the folks were there – to find out.
Well, whatever Hollywood has been able to do for Miss Crawford through the years. Nature has done more – and did it first.
Her face is structurally very interesting – with finely modeled bone formation. Her nose is exquisite (as all her pictures show), and her skin is finely textured and a pale ivory color, her mouth is large and expressive. But it was her eyes that held me.
They are not only large, as is well-known, but they are deep, clear grey. And almost no one has really grey eyes. Beneath those beautiful eyes there are now many fine lines.
Miss Crawford is very thin – thinner than I expected her to be.
She lost considerable weight during the filming of “What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?”, in which she co-stars with Bette Davis and which they just completed a few days ago in Hollywood.
For the occasion, the star was wearing a steel grey silk and cotton dress, styled with unpressed pleats and a short matching jacket.
Her handbag and ankle strap pumps were fine silvered lizard, her jewelry, a two-strand pearl necklace and a diamond-studded bracelet watch.
You can imagine what the steel grey costume did for those grey eyes. (And I’ll tell you what those lovely grey eyes did to mine – it turned them GREEN!)
Her hair which is a naturally red-gold, was dark brown with a thread of grey here and there. It had been dyed, she said, for the filming of her latest picture, which will be released in November.
Asked at her press conference if she thinks too much attention is paid to youth in the country today, the foster [adoptive] mother of four said “I don’t think you CAN give too much attention to the young. You can spoil them, yes, but there are too many areas you have to work in to make it possible to give them too much attention.”
If Miss Crawford had not been successful as an actress presumably she would have been a successful dancer, but otherwise, what would have been her next choice of work?
“Painting," she said. And said it instantly. However, she added, “I paint alone and then hide them. My painting is like singing in the shower – done alone, and just for me!”
Miss Crawford believes that young actors today often lack discipline and have no or little preparation for their work.
They are often tardy on the set (“which runs into a lot of money”). She thinks Americans in general have a tendency to flabbiness and laziness.
In her autobiography, “A Portrait Of Joan” she speaks of her pleasure in receiving flowers. Asked what are her favorite flowers, she said “When I was young, gardenias were my favorite. But now, they are butterfly orchids and zinnias – colorful blossoms I move now.”
The cinema star, who began her career in the 1920’s when she was 17 and won many prizes dancing the Charleston “loves” the Twist.
But she is ‘scared to death” when she does the tango – especially with Cesar Romero who is “way up there above me!”
Miss Crawford’s favorite composers are the B’s – Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Wagner.
She studied opera for seven years as a mezzo soprano, but is now a contralto. Her favorite opera is “Carmen”.
Her favorite costume colors are cyclamen pink and blues, but she says they just aren't right to wear with her hair the dark brown shade it is right now.
“Only the blacks, grays and greens are right for this color.” And she considers them all quite dull.
Miss Crawford has always enjoyed going into the kitchen – cooking, in other words. But she has no “specialty.”
She cooks “everything – except pastries.”
When she started out on her career, according to her autobiography, she weighed 145 lbs. of “baby fat.”
But today she says she has no weight problem, nor has she had any through the years.
“Of course.” She added, “I watch my diet.”
Asked if she plans to retire she came back with a flash of her gray eyes, “No. Why should I?” And then laughingly, “Or are you tired of me?”
None of the hundreds surrounding her admiringly Wednesday showed any signs of EVER being tired of Joan Crawford.
She autographed dozens of photos and hundreds of just plain scraps of paper. She was casual, easy.
She appears to be a very sincere person, with no pretensions who “loves” people as she has said in her “Portrait.”
She has traveled 850,000 miles in the last seven years. Asked if there’s a country she would prefer to live in IF she ever retires, her answer was an emphatic “Keep traveling!” Then she added, “America first!”
However, she went on to say that is she had to choose a country abroad, it would definitely be Switzerland.
Of all the many countries she has visited, “Switzerland is the cleanest, the most beautiful! It is such a healthy, happy place. The sun is bright and the mountains are fantastic.” She has visited Switzerland on several occasions, both summer and winter and spent two Christmases there.
Pepsi-Cola was one of the sponsors of last Saturday night’s televised Miss America Show – and last year.
Miss Crawford was one of the judges. I watched this year’s production with a neighbor. Had Miss Crawford watched it? She had.
So, here at last was my perfect chance to find out what a sponsor thinks of television commercials.
Aren’t they too long? I asked.
“I don’t think ours are” said Mrs. Joan Crawford Steele. "I think ours are gay and peppy and interesting.”
So it looks as though the rest of us would just have to keep on getting out of the room during commercials – and keep on raiding the icebox during those “interruptions” – for Pepsi-Cola, maybe?